Sunshine, 46 Ipswich Society members and a tour of the Buckinghamshire Chilterns have the makings of a fabulous day out. Interestingly though, the highlight was neither on the Metropolitan Railway, nor in Buckinghamshire. The Barn at Harmondsworth is 191 feet long and the wood (oak) has been dated to 1426. An English Heritage Grade I building, it is soon to be on the edge of the Heathrow 3rd runway.
The church next to it has a stack of ‘Heathrow Expansion: Properties Policy Information Paper’ documents for the local residents who had to lodge a request for a ‘Home Purchase Bond’ by the end of June 2019. How does that work when consent for the runway hasn’t been granted yet? Those poor people. The village pub did excellent sandwiches for us and this trio of ancient buildings sit together on the north side of a green – the housing on the south side soon to disappear under concrete and airliners.
After lunch, our drive north through the Colne valley passed close to Pinewood Studios (though not very close owing to filming of the latest James Bond saga in progress). Our guide entertained us with stories of the famous and we could see some of their fantastic houses among the Buckinghamshire trees as we made our way into John Betjeman’s ‘Metro-Land’. It’s about a century since this area was opened up to commuters by the advance of the Metropolitan Railway and we found some of the distinctive half-timber houses and a shopping parade in ‘new’ Amersham. Down the hill away from the railway ‘old’ Amersham has been preserved in its pre-Victorian state and a warm welcome awaited us at the Museum - in a beautifully restored Tudor house. Refreshing tea and biscuits were provided in the garden along with an introduction to the town and Museum. It was a fabulous day out – a big thank you to Barbara Barker for organising it.